Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Can I Appeal My Divorce Outcome?

Let’s face it, divorce is a stressful time for all involved. You and you ex-spouse are likely fighting over the same things. As a result, you might not be able to compromise and settle issues outside of court. You might need a judge to intervene.

Judges make decisions as best they can, based on the circumstances of your case. Nobody is going to “win.” But what if you’re truly not happy with the judge’s decision and think it is unfair? You can appeal it, but the appellate court rarely overturns a family court judge’s decision. Talking with an experienced divorce appeals and modifications lawyer may be your best bet moving forward.

The Appeals Process

Your lawyer can submit a brief, which is a document showing legal arguments and references to laws and statutes. The brief attempts to prove that the judge applied a law incorrectly and gave the client an unfavorable ruling.

Once the brief is submitted, the parties may appear in court for oral arguments. Decisions are made solely on what was already presented originally. Therefore, no new evidence can be presented.

The appeals court may stand by the original decision or make revisions. There are few opportunities to appeal after this level.

Making Modifications

Instead of going through the appeals process, you can make modifications to your divorce outcome. For example, if you lose your job and have less income than before, you can request a modification to child support or alimony. If your ex-spouse is awarded full custody of your child, and you find out he or she is abusing the child, you can request custody.

You will need to file a “motion to modify” in the court where you filed for divorce. The judge will assess your situation and determine if a modification should be made. Note that child support and alimony payments may be temporarily reduced, but you won’t be able to avoid them altogether.

If you file the motion to modify, you will face the burden of proving that your circumstances – of the circumstances of your ex-spouse warrant the modification. If you got laid off from your job, you must prove that this hardship will make it difficult to pay child support. However, you cannot purposely reduce your hours or quit your job altogether and expect to pay less money in child support.

You can also use information about the other parent to your advantage. If you found out your ex-spouse received a substantial raise at work, you may be able to use this information to fight for a lower alimony payment.

You can also modify child custody for various reasons. Note that it is easier to modify physical custody than legal custody. However, there must be a change in condition in order to successfully file a modification. For example, a custodial parent suddenly having substance abuse or legal issues would warrant a child custody modification.

Modifications, if approved, can go into effect rather quickly, so if you know that your circumstances are about to change, file the motion to modify as soon as possible. Even if you and your ex-spouse agree on modifications, make the changes official with the court.

If you have questions about your divorce, please contact us today to set up a free consultation to discuss your options. This is not something you want to try to figure out on your own.


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